Conversation with Your BFF: ‘What Happens When I Stop Being a People-Pleaser?’

From as far back as I can remember, I’ve been a people-pleaser. If there was a meeting like AA for people-pleasers, I’d be there every time they opened the doors. Yes, I am that bad, or was that bad. Growing up as an only child, I was always trying to make my parents happy, since most of the time they were arguing, I figured if I did everything possible to please them, from good grades, to not causing any issues at school or at home, life would be easier for us all. Unfortunately, I didn’t outgrow that need to make everyone, except me, happy and I took it into my marriage and other relationships. Anytime anyone was slightly upset or perturbed with me, I’d bend over backwards to make things right at the cost of myself. But within the past few years, I’ve put a stop to that and am now seeing the world didn’t fall off its axis because I stuck up for myself and did what I wanted to on occasion. So what happened when I stopped being the people-pleaser everyone had grown accustomed to? I am so glad you asked!

Relationships Change When We Change

As a recovering people-pleaser, it made sense that when I made a change this drastic, not all of my relationships would hold up. Some people are in a relationship with me for what they can get out of it. As I grow and set boundaries, some connections with others may not feel right anymore. But remember that people-pleasers usually attract those who take advantage of them, so losing them from your life is actually a positive.

Change is Never Easy

Once I decided to pull the plug on making everyone else happy, I came down with a bad case of self-doubt, second guessing that ending a certain relationship was the right thing to do. It’s challenging to change, leave a familiar situation for an unfamiliar one…that’s the way most of us are wired.

People-pleasers tend to be very sensitive to guilt and self-doubt. Ending any relationship can bring on feelings of ‘was that the right decision?’ but in the end, with a little distance, you will see that no longer being in that relationship that caused you so much anxiety is a good thing.

The Only Constant in Life is Change

Change is the only constant in life; we change our environments, situations, and circumstances and so do others. We aren’t static in our lives – some sort of change is always happening. For this reason, it is unrealistic to believe that our relationships won’t change; sometimes we grow closer to others and sometimes we grow apart.

In the end, the perspective I keep is that sometimes it is necessary to end relationships to make room for connections that better align with our beliefs and stage in life. Being a people-pleaser is draining and you are always jumping through hoops for others, making their lives easier, all the while setting your needs aside. Remember, you are as important in a relationship as the other person and if the other person can’t see that, it’s not much of a friendship.


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